The Dilemma Caused by State Recreational Marijuana Laws


Even with the progress that can be witnessed across the country, the push to embrace medical marijuana has never been an easy undertaking. Recreational marijuana faces even harsher odds despite the fact that, according to NORML, it is the third most popular drug used for pleasure after alcohol and tobacco.

In disregard of any legal position, people are daily using marijuana to add fun to their lives both as individuals in private and as bonding buddies in social settings. Many are not afraid of the heavy penalties that come with being found guilty of dealing in the plant.

These individuals give many reasons why they take risks for this substance – despite reports that the psychoactive THC element causes mental disorders, some of which can result in harm to self and others. Some claim that, after lighting up, they get more enjoyment out of things like art, music and meditation. Others see it as a source of energy and motivation that lets them find physical activities like hiking, dancing, workouts and even sex more fun. There are even those who have said that recreational marijuana makes mundane chores less stressful.

Legalization of Medical Marijuana

In November 2012, the state of Colorado put the question to the electorate of whether or not to legalize marijuana, and 55% said yes. Consequently, from January 1, 2014, marijuana has become accessible to residents and visitors over the age of 21 in licensed facilities without the need of any prescription. Individuals can also grow up to six plants in an enclosed and locked patch within their property.

Taxation is one of the points that stand out in the debates on legalization of recreational marijuana. Advocates have pitted the amount of money state authorities stand to collect in the form of sales and retail tax against an annual $10 billion nationwide budget for prohibition enforcement.

Sales of recreational marijuana in two months of legalization gave the state of Colorado over $6 million in 25% retail and 2.9% sales taxes. This number is projected to stand at $67 million annual state income

Washington and California are expected to follow with similar legislation, and there is building excitement among advocates and users. However, strong opposition still exists, and even though Colorado, Washington and California are becoming recreational marijuana use destinations, other states are not going to give in without a political fight.

It has been observed that, in some of these states, strong supporters of medicinal marijuana legalization are not enthusiastic about recreational marijuana. This is because related laws are likely to attract huge taxes even on medicinal marijuana.

However, the most outstanding dilemma is one brought about by the clash of state and federal law. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, and its production, possession, sale and use can attract up to life in prison. The enforcement of the relevant laws by the two levels of government is a matter of wait and see.